Five Million Children Born With IVF, But How Many Lost

Bioethics   Rebecca Taylor   Jul 25, 2012   |   10:17AM    Washington, DC

The Singularity Hub reports that recently the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies estimates 5 million children have been born using IVF since 1978. Writer David Hill says, “It’s time to applaud fertility specialists for all their baby making efforts,” and “Chalk up another win for technology.”

This is the typical approach to IVF. Stop scrutinizing after you see the cute, bouncing baby. Rarely does anyone turn IVF over to look at the dark under belly of mass commodifying and manufacturing of human life.

If 5 million children have been born, how many lives have been created then lost, destroyed or frozen? I don’t think we can ever know for sure, but we may guess.

The United Kingdom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) monitors the fertility industry there. At a request from Lord Alton on the numbers of embryos created with IVF in the UK, the HFEA reported that for every 1 live birth as many as 30 embryos are created. As reported by the Daily Mail:

The figures show that 3,144,386 embryos have been created in UK laboratories since the passage of the 1991 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. A total of 1,455,832 embryos were discarded in the course of treatment, 101,605 were given for research in destructive experiments, and 764,311 were frozen for later use.

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The rest were implanted, resulting in 94,090 births, meaning that in the region of 32 embryos are created for every live birth.

So as long as everyone is estimating, if 5 million children have been born, and around 30 embryos are created for every live birth, it may mean that as many as a 150 million lives have been created with many lost, discarded or destroyed by research. Some of those 150 million human lives are still on ice waiting for a chance to finish their lives. Many will die waiting.

As Lord Alton said to the Mail, “We are creating and destroying human embryos on an industrial scale.”

I personally call that a tragedy not a “win for technology.”